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When she saw how far the tractor was down in the coulee, she knew she was not going to handle what he would look like when he was rescued and brought up to be further assisted.

Monte had already went to Kyle’s rescue, staying by his side until more help could arrive.

Kyle’s head was trapped between the gas tank and the ground. Monte used his hand to dig out a spot, making it a little easier for Kyle to breathe.
Kyle’s first question to his dad was, “Dad, am I gonna die?”

Maternal instinct was to get to her son as quickly as possible. Emergency Medical personnel on the scene convinced Nichol to wait until trained persons could bring him up from the wreckage.

“It tore me apart when Kyle was brought up,” cried Nichol.

The helicopter landed and Kyle was quickly air-lifted to Minot. There was not room for either parent to ride in the small space.

Not being able to drive themselves from being so shook up, friends and ambulance members, Alana and Mya Erickson, drove Nichol and Monte to Minot.

“I don’t even remember much about the ride,” said Nichol. “I just knew we couldn’t get there fast enough for our son.”

When they arrived in Minot, all the testing had already been done. Doctors in Minot felt he needed to be air-lifted to Minneapolis. The parents signed permission for him to be transferred to Hennepin County, a trauma center in Minneapolis. The couple decided at this point, Nichol would be the one parent to accompany Kyle on his flight to Minneapolis.

Nichol knew it was not the best decision to have Monte drive to Minneapolis until he had a few hours to absorb the whole ordeal and to try and get some rest. He stayed in Minot with Nichol’s sister, Cherie. There was not a lot of rest for anyone. As soon as morning arrived, Monte and Cherie took off for the long trip to the Cities to be with Kyle and Nichol.

However, when Nichol entered the trauma center, she felt her son was in the best possible place he could be.

“I was amazed,” commented Nichol. “It was overwhelming with the professionalism and the knowledge of the entire staff there.”

The doctors explained that Kyle’s arm was their first priority. He had bones sticking out of his right arm, needing surgery immediately. The team of doctors also explained he would need to repair an intestine which was damaged at the time of the accident.

Other injuries included several fractures to the skull, eye sockets, and sinuses, a broken rib, and also a fractured pelvis. One kidney was swollen, bruised and bleeding, as well as his adrenal gland giving problems. He ended up with third degree burns on his legs and it was later discovered he had a fracture in one of his vertebrae, that later required him to wear a collar.
He had to be placed on a ventilator for two weeks due to bruised lungs.

With all these injuries, doctors agreed, it was nothing short of a miracle that Kyle’s body was going work through all the complications on his own. They explained the extent of Kyle’s injuries, and other than the broken bones in his arm, none of the other damages were displacing. Most of his injuries would heal on their own with time. Doctors did have to complete some skin graphing on Kyle’s legs due to the burns received.

The couple spent most waking moments with Kyle. He was heavily sedated for quite some time but as he was weaned off the medicine, he began to improve quickly.

“He amazed me,” said Nichol. “He always was cheerful and he understood what the staff needed to do on a daily basis, and he never complained.”
It wasn’t until after Labor Day that Nichol headed back to Lignite.
“I had four other kids who needed some of my attention,” smiled Nichol. “And I sure needed them too.”

As Monte stayed with Kyle, he saw the progress his son was making every day. Kyle began taking a few steps right after Labor Day, gaining his strength back quickly. Doctors decided he would probably do even better with his recovery at home.

News to the ears of the entire family! They headed home for a two day journey on Sept. 18.

Kyle was anxious to get back to school to see his friends and be a part of everything happening there. His parents agreed he needed to be back, but for prevention, they kept him home for one week and then let him attend classes on a part time basis.

“Kyle was a trooper through it all,” expressed Nichol. “He just kept on and we knew nothing would stop him from getting better.”
He has been back to the Cities for two checkups. Both his reports have been good and all restrictions have been lifted. He is back to school full time and enjoying life as any 12-year-old should.

Life is back to as close to normal as it was before the accident.
“We are so thankful, said Nichol. “This whole experience has made us look at our children in such a different way. We have learned not to take anything for granted in life.”

Monte and Nichol realize it just wouldn’t be possible to thank everyone who was there for them during this difficult time.

“This community and surrounding area have been phenomenal,” smiled Nichol. “We couldn’t believe how the community put their arms around us, brought food to the house, went school shopping for our kids, took care of our other kids left behind, called us, always wanting to do something to help us out, and putting on the big benefit for us. This community we live in is amazing. We are so blessed.”

As Nichol wiped the tears from her eyes, she also commented about her faith.

“Even though we don’t attend church regularly, we prayed a lot,” said Nichol. “I just prayed and told God, we have done what we can, it’s in Your hands now.”

She said many times that Kyle would say, “God really does love us, doesn’t he, Mom?”

This Thanksgiving, Kyle and his family will be feeling extra grateful and blessed.



Our daughter, Sierra, left her teens behind her a few weeks back with the arrival of her 20th birthday.

I’m not sure how she can be 20, seeing how I’m only 23, but then again I’ve never been all that handy with numbers.

I was 23 when Sierra was born, and I do still “feel” like I haven’t strayed all that far from that age, although there is some greying fellow in the mirror who intently watches me brush my teeth and shave each morning. He seems harmless, a bit odd, but harmless.

Time is an odd thing. Relentlessly moving forward, yet fluid and timeless within the confines of our memories where time travel is very much a reality.
If I could go back and chat with my 23-year-old self, the new dad of a lovely little girl, what sage advice would I offer?

Other than, “don’t wear pleated front pants and burn your muscle shirts,” I’m really not sure what I’d have to say?

The stock advice, “Enjoy it, it goes fast” just about sums it up.
It does go fast, and I enjoyed every minute of all that has passed and look forward to all that there is to come.
It just feels odd when your child gets to an age that you distinctly remember being yourself.

Most of my students are the same age as my daughter, which has also been an odd transformation for me, a transformation that has made me a better instructor.

Feeling “fatherly” around my students has allowed me to get past any delusions of appearing “cool” and “hip.” Both of which, we are well aware, a dad cannot be. At least not simultaneously.

Being able to remember being 20 and having a daughter who is 20 can make a dad lie in bed and stare wide eyed at the ceiling at night. Knowing quite well the Chrest and Ellis force is strong in that one, you hope against hope some of your wife’s sensible genetics rise up when the sun goes down.
Unlikely, but sometimes hope is all we have.

When Sierra was little, one of the things I dreaded most was the thought of a boyfriend.
I dreaded this because generally speaking, boys are idiots.

We…I mean they, are immature, crude, and lack the sensible foresight to realize most every thought they have, should be ignored…okay, I mean we.
Then one day an odd thing happens, some of those boys grow up and seem to possibly be suitable enough to keep company with your daughter, and you grow up and realize seeing her happy is all that really matters.

Being a dad is funny that way. You spend all those years holding them tight and then you realize when you are able to let go a little they become closer than ever.

Sierra is doing well at Montana State.
Bozeman has been a good fit for her…hipsters, gypsters, cowboys, and odd artistic folks abound.

It’s a long ways from Rapid City, but her room is just downstairs, and I sit in there from time to time when the distance feels too far.

Happy Birthday Sierra, see you at the 109 Club next year.

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